My favorite holiday of the year is hands down, Thanksgiving.  Growing up, my family didn’t have many Thanksgiving traditions – it was a foreign holiday that we never really embraced.  But I’d always dream about what kind of Thanksgivings I’d have when I grew up: the perfectly browned turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole with those nicely melted marshmallows on top, green bean casserole topped with crispy fried onions…the glory!

Once I headed off to college and pretty much had to fend on my own, cooking was something that continued to stay constant in my life (Thank you mom!).  So before everyone would disperse for Thanksgiving every year, we’d get together, I’d make an epic Thanksgiving feast, and we’d eat ourselves stupid — but in a good way. It was my way of showing my appreciation to my friends in the best way I knew how: through food.    Now as the years have passed I still maintain my annual Thanksgiving feast tradition.  I like that, tradition.  It takes a long time for something to become a tradition.

It was our first Thanksgiving feast in our new home this year so I knew I had to make it special.  To prepare a feast for 15 people can often be a challenge so I kept my recipes simple and made sure to start prepping as early as possible.  I created prep lists to keep track of all the tasks that needed to be completed and made detailed shopping lists of what stores and what items I’d need.  I started prepping 3 days before the event and once the big day came I wasn’t running around the kitchen like a maniac.  I felt revived after not cooking for so long and yes there were some mistakes but overall the entire meal was a wonderful success.  People went back for seconds and thirds, others passed out from intense food coma, and of course to maintain “tradition” we ended the meal by forcing the cook to perform a piano solo.  (Thank you Jenni)  Apparently there is NO REST for the weary. :)

We had Cajun Turkey, Southwestern Cream Corn, Green Bean Casserole with Maitake Mushrooms, Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples, Sweet Potatoe Casserole with Marshmallows, Fresh Garden Salad, Roasted Vegetables with Walnut Gremolata, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Peanutbutter Chocolate Trifle, Caramel Apple Pie, Sugar Shortbreads and Peanutbutter M&M Cookies.  I’d like to share two recipes that I think many of you will enjoy during thanksgiving: Maple Corn Bread and THE Chocolate Peanutbutter Trifle. 

I adored this cornbread recipe that I found via Real Simple. It was easy to make and the results was a buttery sweet cornbread with a slightly crisp edge and top.  I wished I had made extra for tableside bread but I actually used this cornbread recipe for my stuffing.  I made the recipe two days beforehand to save time, plus this gave the bread time to dehydrate a little bit before cooking.  I even used some leftover cornbread pieces and used them for croutons on a salad.

I didn’t discover the beauty of trifle until I started to date my husband.  Before that my main reference to trifle was through Friends when Rachel made a trifle, messed up the recipe because one of the pages were stuck to Shepard’s Pie but hey Joey liked it – custard, jam, meat, what’s not to like?

My first real experience with trifle was through my Aunt Lauri — she made this incredible trifle of moist cake, custard, cream, lots of chocolate…it was a beautiful thing.  I never was able to shake the memory of her wondrous trifle until the following year when we’d all get to have it again for Thanksgiving.  This time around I thought I’d try a trifle for Friendsgiving.

There were a few problems I’d like to note about my first trifle experience that will help you guys out –

1. Make BIG generous layers.  My problem I made the layers too small so when it came to serving time, all the layers kind of blended together.  I realized when you make big generous layers of every filling, when it comes to serving time, your guests will be able to differentiate the different layers you have going on for your trifle.


2. I originally used gingerbread for my cake layer.  I should’ve used a moist chocolate cake (which is what I changed the recipe to).  Ginger, chocolate, peanut butter — not good. Chocolate, chocolate, peanut butter — REAL good.


Other than that, the fillings were really quick and easy.  I found the peanut butter mousse and milk chocolate pudding via Epicurious  and the salted caramel sauce from Food and Wine.  The peanut butter mousse tasted very similar to the filling in a Reeses peanut butter cup and the milk chocolate pudding was rich and decadent.  I used a gourmet dark chocolate bar I found at my local store for a bolder flavor but feel free to use milk for a milder touch.  And the salted caramel sauce adds the perfect finishing touch and I used whatever was leftover and poured it on top of my Apple Streusel Pie so it became an Apple Caramel Streusel Pie. :)



Holidays are the best time to try your luck in the kitchen.  What better reason to discover your inner chef?  Whatever your drive may be, remember: food is always love.  Even if you happen to have a little meat in your trifle.  Happy Thanksgiving friends.  Best wishes for a wonderful time with family and friends and don’t forget to go for extra helpings of dessert :) (in moderation) <— who are we kidding?




  1. Steven Doyle says: 22 Nov ’11 • 16:14:08

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Collin! Rachel/s trifle tastes like feet, btw.


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:08:33

      LOL I love you Steve :)

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food says: 22 Nov ’11 • 16:48:36

    A very happy Friendsgiving to you, darling! We had ours on Saturday and it was so much fun! This meal… this whole meal… looks so freakin’ delicious! Bravo!


  3. Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) says: 22 Nov ’11 • 17:00:51

    Joy, I would consider myself extremely lucky to sit at your Thanksgiving table. Epic is right–you know how to put together a fabulous meal. I would definitely make lots of room for your peanut butter chocolate trifle–wow. Just wow.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Collin!


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:08:11

      LOL Jean you’re the best :) Hope you are doing well, miss you pretty lady!

  4. Trish says: 22 Nov ’11 • 20:34:52

    Looks amazing. Your photos are breathtaking. Love the PB mousse idea. Yum. Happy Thanksgiving.


  5. amelia from z tasty life says: 22 Nov ’11 • 22:24:23

    these photographs are spectacular, magazine material! Happy T-day


  6. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says: 23 Nov ’11 • 00:32:52

    Now that’s a killer dessert! Happy Thanksgiving!


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:07:51

      Thank you Sylvie! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving :)

  7. Sukaina says: 23 Nov ’11 • 11:24:22

    Happy Thanksgiving Joy- that corn bread sure does look super :) And I love your recipe card!


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:07:31

      Thank you Sukaina!! Hope you are doing well :)

  8. Sandra says: 23 Nov ’11 • 12:24:02

    Beautiful pictures and that trifle is tempting. Your first tip about making generous layers is so on point. Have a great holiday.


  9. Denise @ TLT – The Little Things says: 23 Nov ’11 • 14:22:57

    Sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving… I love the sound and look of that trifle! I’m exactly the same (tendency to make too small layers), so thanks for your advice!


  10. marla says: 23 Nov ’11 • 15:50:48

    Such a fun & pretty dessert! Enjoy your Thanksgiving :)


  11. [email protected] says: 23 Nov ’11 • 16:12:28

    came first time to your blog through foodgawker and i am bowled over by your photography and presentation.. simply stunning…


  12. justcooknyc says: 23 Nov ’11 • 17:19:47

    love these photos and the type treatments!


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:07:01

      Thank you Justin!

  13. Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen says: 23 Nov ’11 • 17:35:23

    Can’t begin to imagine how great this would taste…..


  14. Liren says: 23 Nov ’11 • 17:59:37

    Holy. Moly. Where’s my spoon? Your feast is so grand and this is the perfect ending, Joy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, my friend! I just love your spirit!


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:06:50

      Love you Liren!! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving :)

  15. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says: 24 Nov ’11 • 15:44:19

    That trifle is making my mouth water. Amazing. Happy Thanksgiving!


  16. Cupcake Crazy Gem says: 28 Nov ’11 • 00:59:18

    Oh my, oh my…what a trifle! I have just pinned it and I’m SO making it for our Christmas Day dessert – thanks for sharing!


  17. Danya says: 28 Nov ’11 • 06:21:55

    What a great and yummy looking dessert! I am in charge of dessert for the next family dinner at my inlaws and was thinking I should make this trifle! About how many “servings”/trifle dishes does this recipe make?I have a large family and wonder if I need to double the recipe! thank you so much, it looks great! Cant wait to give it a try :)


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:05:55

      Hi Danya

      This is a pretty large portion size — it filled up my large trifle dish and a couple of the small one. I think it’s safe to say this recipe would serve 10-12 people. Let me know how it turns out!

  18. Shannon | Just As Delish says: 29 Nov ’11 • 03:47:19

    the only trifle i’ve made is english trifle. Yours look to die for, something new for me try next time. thanks for sharing your inspiration and beautiful photos


    • Joy says: 29 Nov ’11 • 16:06:18

      Thank you sweet Shannon! Ive never had English Trifle — is it yummy?

  19. Amber, RD says: 29 Nov ’11 • 19:31:30

    Those look soo good! Thanks for sharing!


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